Trekking in Nepal

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TrekkingInNepal.Org

The Web’s Number 1 Resource for Information on
Trekking in Nepal

When it comes to trekking, Nepal is paradise!

This website is dedicated to providing the most up-to-date and reliable information on trekking in Nepal. It is maintained by trekkers and revised regularly.

On this page we provide general information on the Himalayas, Nepal, trekking routes and preparation.

Feel free to browse the useful links, engage and comment on the various articles and contact us directly if you have any specific questions or want free recommendations on reliable and ethical tour operators.

We are always happy to help.

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The Himalayas and Nepal

Nepal sits slap bang in the middle of the Himalayan range and is home to eight of the ten highest mountain peaks in the world, including Mount Everest (which shares a border with Tibet in the North as well)!

Amazingly, the Himalayan range, which crosses four other countries – Pakistan, India, Bhutan and China – has over one hundred mountains that exceed 7,200 meters (23,600 feet).

To put this in perspective, the highest mountain outside of Asia is Aconcagua, which sits at 6,961 meters (22,838 feet) in the South American Andes.

The sheer height and magnificence of the Himalayas is attributed to the continental collision, uplift and folding of the Indo-Australian Plate with the Eurasian Plate, which is thought to have occurred around 50 million years ago.

The Himalayan range is bordered by the Karakoram and Hindu Kush ranges in the North-west, the Tibetan Plateau in the North, and the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the South.

Nepal’s position, in the middle of the Himalayas, make it one of the world’s most sort after trekking and climbing destinations in the world. In fact, trekking and climbing is one of the most popular activities in Nepal and a major attraction for tourism, and driver for economic activity in the country.

Over 240 mountain peaks in Nepal breach the 6,000 meter mark (~20,000 feet) – the highest mountain in Africa, Mount Kilimanjaro, is 5,895 meters.

Thirty-three mountain peaks in Nepal, with heights ranging from 5,650 meters to 6,500 meters, are classified as ‘trekking peaks’. Although as many as 15 require some, if not a lot, of climbing experience.

Trekking in Nepal – Best Time to Trek

Trekking in Nepal is best done during the dry and warm months of late February through June or September through November.

During these months temperatures tend to be ‘moderate’ by Nepalese standards and the skies are often clear, providing great vistas of the Himalayas.

Of course, as these months are optimal for trekking, most routes in Nepal tend to get busy. There are however some quieter more remote routes that can be followed to avoid the crowds.

The summer monsoon arrives in June and gets into full swing during the months of July and August. These last two months are generally wet and unpleasant, characterised by serious rain and leeches! You can however find good trekking in rain-shadow areas like the Mustang, Dolpo and Upper Manang during these months.

The winter months of December, January and February, although very cold, can give trekkers on lower routes and unclosed paths a very authentic Nepal trekking experience. They are however, not ideal for the faint-hearted and better suited for rugged trekkers who enjoy the hardships and challenges that come with trekking in freezing conditions.

Trekking in Nepal – Tour Agents, Guides and Independent Treks

One of the key benefits of trekking in Nepal is that there are a number of options available in terms of how you want to organize your trek.

Generally though, there are three ways to trek in Nepal:

  • Join an organized trekking group
  • Acquire the services of a guide and /or a porter to assist you with your trek
  • Trek independently

The option you choose will usually be dictated by the difficulty of the trek, your experience and available budget.

Organized treks

Organized treks are best suited for trekkers looking to do long or challenging routes, or for those who are unfamiliar with Nepal / trekking in general and want the comfort of being part of an organised tour where your safety, comfort and trekking experience are in the reliable hands of a respectable operator.

Organized guided treks come in many shapes and forms, but all need to be managed by tour agencies that are registered with the Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN). Please note: if an agency, hotel or anyone else offers you a guided trek and they are not TAAN registered, then they are operating illegally and you should not acquire their services.

Organized treks cover all administrative requirements and costs like land transportation, trekking / climbing permits, taxes, porter insurance and National Park fees. Group treks generally consist of guides, porters and cooks who carry all required supplies (camping materials, your gear, food and cooking supplies) up the mountain. You are only required to carry light essentials in a small daypack. Tents and food are assembled and prepared for you at each campsite and the general organization and operation of the trek is often overseen by a Chief Guide called a Sirdar.

Three types of tour agents / operators dominate the market.

Firstly, there are local tour agents that run their own operations or outsource to local operators in the region. You will see many of these local agencies in the trekking and climbing hubs of Kathmandu and Pokhara.

Secondly, there are international tour agents that outsource to local tour agents / operators.

And finally, there are international tour agents that own and operate on-the-ground operations in Nepal.

The first group tend to be the cheapest out of the three but can often be hit and miss in terms of quality. If you decide to go with a local agent in Nepal make sure you shop around a bit, compare itineraries and check to see what is included and not included in the trek. Ask around for recommendations and most importantly, make sure that the agent is properly TAAN registered.

The second group are generally very reliable as they have long-term and established relationships with local operators who have great track records. Obviously they tend to be more expensive as they mark-up their prices for international trekkers who are looking for that extra surety in quality and safety.

The final group are a rare breed. They tend to specialise in the most technically challenging trekking routes / climbs, can design bespoke programmes for trekkers and hold full control of your trekking experience from beginning to end. The service often comes at a premium, but because they have their own on-the-ground operations, they can often also be price competitive for popular and uncomplicated treks – like Everest Base Camp.

Acquiring the services of a local guide or porter, or trekking independently

If you are an accustomed adventurer with some experience dealing with Nepalese locals and trekking in Nepal, then you may want to consider trekking independently or acquiring the services of a guide or porter to assist you on your trek and keep you company. Please note: as an independent trekker it is illegal to use a guide or porter that is not licenced as a trekking agent through TAAN, or affiliated with a licenced trekking agent.

As an independent trekker you will need a trekking permit, which varies depending on the region that you are looking to trek. You will also need to pay National Park Entrance fees.

The largest and most popular trekking regions of Annapurna, Khumbu and Langtang / Helambu require independent trekkers to have a Trekker Information Management System (TIMS) card which can be bought for NPR2,000 (US$20) from the Nepal Tourism Board offices in Kathmandu and Pokhara, or from the TAAN offices. Please note: Independent TIMS cards are green, not to be confused with blue TIMS cards that are issued to trekkers that are part of a group with a licenced guide. Blue TIMS card can be bought for NPR1,000 (US$10).

See TIMS Nepal to find out how to acquire a TIMS card and what documentation you will need to show in order to be issued a card.

Special trekking permits for restricted areas like Mustang, Kanchenjunga, Dolpo and Manaslu can only be obtained through licenced trekking agents.

If you plan to do any trekking peaks, like Island Peak or Mera Peak, you will need a climbing permit which can be obtained from the Nepal Mountaineering Association.

Trekking in Nepal – Trekking Gear

The trekking gear you choose to take with you to Nepal will depend on what type of trekking you plan to do and which route you plan to take.

A key principle is to stay as light as possible, particularly if you plan to trek independently.

A lot of gear can be rented from trekking agents or bought in the towns of Kathmandu or Pokhara.

Nonetheless, there are some mandatory trekking gear requirements which we think you should rather bring with you – we have briefly set these out below. Please read our detailed Nepal trekking gear article for more information, reviews and gear recommendations.

Hiking boots: First off you will need a good pair or well worn-in hiking boots. Do not arrive in Nepal with badly fitted boots or brand new boots. You will undoubtedly get sore feet and blisters.

Sleeping bag: A very warm (protection up to -10 degrees Celsius), mummy-shaped sleeping bag.

Clothing: A selection of layered trekking clothing, from next-to-skin base layers, to fleece second layers and a water / wind proof shell jacket and trousers. Also bring trekking socks, thermal socks, warm gloves and warm headwear. Detailed information on trekking clothing for Nepal can be found here.

Trekking poles: Adjustable trekking poles that are easy to store and sturdy under pressure.

Sunglasses: High UV protection sunglasses that can deal with the sun intensity and glare in Nepal.

Daypack and Duffle: A light-weight daypack to carry your essentials and a duffle bag to carry your trekking gear.

Headlamp: Good quality, LED headlamp

Other accessories: Water bottles / hydration bags, water purification tablets, general medications, snacks and toiletry supplies (although these can be purchased on most routes but increase in price as you get higher)

Full overview on Nepal trekking gear, including a nifty checklist, is available here.

Tourist visa for Trekking in Nepal

All foreigners (except Indians) require a tourist visa to enter Nepal. Visas are issued at entry ports into Nepal or can be obtained at the Nepalese Embassy in your country of origin (note: Passport holders from Afghanistan, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Palestine, Somalia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe need to obtain a visa in their country of origin before arriving in Nepal).

Visa fees are as follows:

  • Multiple entry, 15 days = US$15
  • Multiple entry, 30 days = US$40
  • Multiple entry, 90 days = US$100

Tourist visas can be extended at the Immigration Department in Kathmandu for a total maximum stay of 150 days in a calendar year.

You will need a valid passport, one passport photograph and the tourist visa fee to obtain a visa when you enter Nepal.